In several African countries and internationally, Africans are mobilizing crowdfunding platforms to promote the arts, drive investment in businesses and launch new business ventures.
LeLapa Fund, for example, is a project based in France that connects people with opportunities to invest capital in African start-ups and SMEs. The target demographic? Africans around the world looking for ways to support innovation at home.
“LelapaFund is working hard on using crowdfunding to make a dent in the $140-$160 billion gap in access to finance for African SMEs,” said LeLapa co-founder Elizabeth Howard. “With the calibre of individual we’re seeing join our investor community, we’re confident we will make it happen.”
The team believes crowdfunding can become a prime way for small businesses in African countries to get off the ground, especially if they can tap into their communities abroad.
Other types of crowdfunding projects have gained traction as well. In South Africa, Thundafund engages models that have been successful in the U.S. and Europe to help creative projects acquire funding. Since its launch in 2013, Thundafund has helped 116 projects (more than 70 percent of proposed projects) achieve their fundraising goals, directing £227,480 to the efforts.
And in Kenya, mobile-based platform M Changa creates a new mechanism for community-driven support of social and personal projects. It taps into the Kenyan tradition of crowdfunding, called harambee, and a thriving mobile tech culture to connect fund-seekers with donors, both in and outside of their communities. The platform allows donations of any amount, so people feel empowered to help without being overwhelmed by demands for large sums.
“Most people are turning to crowdfunding since it’s the easiest way of reaching more people within the shortest period possible. Since contributors put their energy and funds together, they won’t feel overburdened by being asked to donate a lot,” says Dennis Mogere, who has used M Changa to raise funds for his non-profit.
These innovative platforms are helping generate funding for further innovation in African nations using models that have shown results in other parts of the world.